Autolyse Pizza Dough is interesting as you mix the dough with water first and then knead the other remaining ingredients into it, including yeast, oil and sugar, and salt.
Proofing a pizza dough is not always about the yeast. It includes many chemical processes involving yeast but a bit of the process can also be done without it, hence Autolyse Pizza Dough.
Autolyse, pronounced as auto-lease is a process where the flour or the dough, is generally hydrated with water alone by soaking it for a certain time.
Pizza doughs, especially ones made from the U.S.A. are all about mixing the ingredients at a time.
This process is dependable and is easy to use.
However, there are other techniques to make your pizza dough a little bit more flavorful
. This process is simple but can go wrong if executed poorly.
The term Autolyse was coined by the renowned French baking instructor, Raymond Calvel.
This process can improve the texture of the dough as well as the taste by doing one simple thing.
That is to hydrate the dough properly. This is essentially the purpose of making an Autolyse dough.
What is Autolyse?
Autolyse method is the process of hydrating the dough by incorporating the strong flour and water together and then letting them rest for at least an hour or more.
After letting it rest, then you can add the rest of the ingredients to complete the process. Letting the dough rest, it allows it to concentrate all the enzymes inside it.
Without the yeast, the dough will not rise as expected but rest assured that all the other microorganisms are working to make the dough better.
Pizza dough with just water and flour. Leaving it to rest for a bit.
Advantages of Autolyse Dough
There are a lot of benefits that you can get when you run your dough through this process. The main thing being its flexibility.
When you make an Autolyse dough, it will be easier to handle since it is hydrated, but not drowned in water, therefore, making it more flexible and smoother.
While the dough rests, the gluten protein will also be activated even without the yeast and start breaking down so there will be no need for too much kneading.
The gluten strands inside the dough is what holds it together, therefore, making it hard to shape. The process allows better gluten development for easier stretching and expanding.
The process of making an Autolyse Dough requires less kneading so there is less oxidation and damage on the pigments inside the dough, therefore, making it more flavorful and richer in color.
These are the results you can expect, but in my personal experience, while I tried to autolyze the pizza dough, it was pretty difficult to work with the dough once you mix flour in water.
So, is it worth it?
How to Autolyse?
The Autolyse technique is simple. Make sure to set other ingredients aside from the flour and the water as they are not in the initial part of the process.
All you need to do is mix the flour with the right amount of water. Make sure that they mix well to hydrate the dough properly.
Then cover it with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rest for 30 minutes. The ideal time for the dough to be hydrated is an hour but you can use it sooner if need be.
You can let the mixture rest for longer, up to 4-5 hours or even overnight to ensure that the process has been developing properly.
Since I was pretty impatient, I just let my dough sit there for about 45 minutes to an hour and then went ahead and checked on my dough.
I could see that the gluten development had already started and it was going to be interesting how this flour mixture was going to react to the yeast mixture that would get added soon.
Autolyse Pizza Dough Recipe
– 550 grams of Bread Flour
– 350 milliliters of Water or about 1.5 cups of water
-7 grams of Active Yeast
-7 grams of Sugar
-7 grams of Salt
-10 grams of Olive oil
Mix at least a quarter of the water and the flour in a large mixing bowl leaving just the right amount of water for the yeast. Cover the mixture and let it rest for an hour.
Activate the yeast by mixing it with the remaining water and whisking it for at least a minute. I have used instant yeast, hence I did not incorporate warm water. But if you are using active dry yeast then you should warm up the water.
A few hours after mixing all the ingerdients to the water and flour mixture.
After an hour I started mixing the yeast with the rested dough. As long as it has rested for an hour, it will be good.
Add the sugar, salt, and oil to the mixture. This process will take longer than you expect since the dough will be stubborn and won’t take the water in.
This was unexpected since I never thought when I autolyse the pizza dough, it makes mixing yeast water so difficult into the pizza dough which can be made easier by a food processor.
With a little bit of kneading on my work space and I got there, it wasn’t as difficult, because hey, I have been kneading dough since I was a kid so you have to consider that.
The dough was a bit more difficult, but slowly kneading without stressing too much about it does the trick. A stand mixer with a dough hook at low speed also comes in handy if your hands are really tired.
With time, the dough starts to absorb the water, but it takes more time than what it takes me to make normal pizza dough.
The technique is to start real slow and then keep at it and eventually, the mix will start to happen and the dough will absorb the other ingredients.
After mixing, cover the dough and let it rest for an hour at room temperature. This short rest will let the dough rise.
After this, most of the process is similar to the usual proofing and fermenting of the pizza dough. I kept it in the fridge for 24 hours and made a pizza.
I stored the rest of the dough back in the fridge and then made another pizza at the 48 hours. I felt the pizza I made at the 48 hours mark was the best.
You can check if the dough is ready by doing the windowpane test or just poking into the dough and seeing if it bounces back.
I did make another one at the 72 hours mark and felt like this one was almost similar to the dough at the 48 hours mark just better in taste.
I think the dough was pretty sticky, which is very common when you Autolyse Neapolitan-style pizza Dough, and it was a little tricky to flatten it out if you do not sprinkle some flour on top of the ball of dough.
Make sure to sprinkle a little all-purpose flour or the rest of the flour you used, as little goes a long way and then you can stretch out the pizza dough.
I generally avoid using too much olive oil while stretching out the pizza dough but using can use it as well, in case you think you just cannot do with the flour.
It is important to Refrigerate the pizza dough for at least one day. The dough can last in the fridge for up to 3 days so you can let it ferment there longer for more subtle flavors.
Make sure you at least leave it for 48 hours to get excellent results.
Form dough balls if you had not already. I usually make dough balls before I leave the dough in the fridge to set for 48 hours. This is the ideal time and I get the best results this way.
Once you are ready to make pizza, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 4 hours, and then you can get started with stretching out your pizza dough.
Start kneading a bit and shape the dough and get cooking!
My Results of Autolyse Pizza Dough
Butter Crust with Autolyse Pizza Dough
An Autolyse Dough rises more evenly when cooked. This allows more fluff inside the crust and a softer bite on every part of the crust.
Although, this happens even in my usually Neapolitan pizza dough recipe so I do not see anything special. Maybe it was a little better but in my opinion, mixing the yeast after the dough has absorbed all water is just too tricky.
The larger water dough content also allows the crust to give off more steam, cooking the toppings and melting the cheese properly.
The crust is crispy because of the added oil and will have a nice, brown color. The Autolyse Dough is also hydrated enough to prevent burned areas, which will be a good thing for the next time you make great pizzas.
Cooked this pizza under the broiler of my home oven. Have to admit, it is some pretty bad lighting.
Again, you can reduce the burned areas if you are cooking the thin-crust pizza in your home oven. But it depends on how you like your pizza, many people would like the leopard spotting more than anything which can be achieved with pizza ovens.
So, pick your battles, would you like less charring and slightly more aerated pizza crust at the expense of kneading a hydrated dough?
Inside was airy and bubbly
The interior of the dough has more bubbles because of the excessive steam from the water inside the dough. This makes the crust thin, and crunchy at the same time.
Flavor of Autolyse Pizza Dough
The crust from an Autolyse Dough is so much better and more flavorful than that of an ordinary crust. Regular crusts are sometimes prone to burns but Autolyse ones are much better at avoiding this.
The broken-down gluten structure inside the Autolyse Dough makes the crust taste better.
I have to hand this over to Autolyse pizza dough as the flavor was pretty good and the entire pizza comes together well in the end.
Would I Autolyse Neapolitan Pizza Dough often?
This pizza recipe shared above is perfect to make Neapolitan pizza at home. Autolyzing Neapolitan pizza dough is easy but the results can be achieved by just the cold fermentation process.
So, if you are into this method then definitely do it but I think Autolysing a pizza dough is a little difficult and I get the same results with 65 percent pizza dough hydration.
This is a high hydration dough so it can really be sticky. Higher hydration means that the yeast inside is more active.
Autolyse Neapolitan pizza dough only if you are a fan of the method else, you can stick to a normal classic Neapolitan pizza dough recipe.
The result is pretty much the same and you can get the niche airy bubbles in the crust even when you cook the pizza using a normal dough recipe and not autolyse it.
You need to cold ferment your regular pizza dough for a day to get the results similar to autolyse pizza dough.
Final Thoughts on Autolyse Pizza Dough
Autolyse is an amazing tool used by great cooks and it is easy to do so you can perform it in your own home. It only takes more time but the results are satisfying.
I might try to autolyze the pizza dough when I have plenty of time but otherwise, my go-to authentic Neapolitan pizza dough recipe is easy and does the job well.
Genuinely, I might autolyze pizza dough less frequently because I think it is too much effort and makes everything messy for 10 percent better aeration and flavor than the normal Neapolitan pizza dough.
It is not always needed but it does make your crust better. You should always remember that you have to allow the oxidation process to happen, so you do not need to knead the pizza dough constantly.
An Autolyse Dough gives off a more subtle flavor by hydrating the dough and activating as much gluten network while keeping them inside.
So if you want to see a drastic improvement in your pizza crust game, you should try out the recipe above and see (or taste, or that matter) and let me know what you think about it.
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